Effects of excitatory and inhibitory amino acids on phasic respiratory neurons

Journal of Neuroscience Research
J R ToleikisL L Boyarsky


The responsiveness of phasically active brainstem respiratory neurons to several amino acids was investigated in cats under Dial anesthesia. Four-barreled microelectrodes were used to extrude iontophoretically the putative neurotransmitters L-glutamate, L-asparatate, glycine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), L-glutamate and L-aspartate caused increased activity when applied to either inspiratory or expiratory neurons and appeared to be equal in efficacy. Likewise, GABA and glycine depressed ongoing phasic neural activity of both inspiratory and expiratory units. In this case, however, the dosage of GABA required to produce a given depression was significantly less than the required dosage of glycine. These findings support the hypothesis that L-glutamate and/or L-aspartate may act as excitatory neurotransmitter agents at the synapses of brainstem respiratory neurons and conversely, GABA may act as the natural inhibitory neurotransmitter.


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